Review M.Zuiko 300mm f/4 Pro - My impressions

Mat - MirrorLessons

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Mat - I have a question.
Honestly do you think this lens is worth that? Who do you see buying this lens (considering the pana/leica zoom will be 100-400 and considerably cheaper).
Personally I am not into wildlife photography enough to make such an investment. Reviewing the lens gave me the opportunity to explore this genre and I admit that I am really enjoying it. However I am not sure I would go out every day or every weekend to photograph birds and other animals. I don't want to invest €2600 for a lens that stays home most of the time. If I wanted to get more serious about the genre, perhaps I would start with the Pana 100-300mm or the new 100-400mm and then eventually consider the Oly 300mm after gathering more experience. A 300mm prime is a very specialised lens and it is not easy to use without experience (I struggled the first days to be honest).

I think that this lens is worth the money if wildlife is your favourite genre and you want the lens with the best quality. Also let's not forget that it is compatible with the MC-14 teleconverter which can be very important for this type of photography. Plus the Sync IS with the E-M1 is really impressive and that can help a lot as well.
 

Mat - MirrorLessons

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Hi Mat,
I would definitely be interested to know the respective T Stops of the Oly 300 mm & the Pany 100-400 at 300mm...
Shooting wildlife & sport, I don't really care about the (shallow) depth of field but the amount of light transmitted (which should be impacted by the greater number of required lenses & over complexity of a zoom).
I guess that the only way to know the precise T stop is to measure it in a lab. Once it gets DxO marked, we should have a good idea.
 

eteless

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I think that this lens is worth the money if wildlife is your favourite genre and you want the lens with the best quality. Also let's not forget that it is compatible with the MC-14 teleconverter which can be very important for this type of photography. Plus the Sync IS with the E-M1 is really impressive and that can help a lot as well.
Another genre where it's right at home is surf photography as you generally need all the reach you can get.

It's a very specialist angle of view really, I think we can all agree on that :)
 

Amin Sabet

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I took that shot handeld, at 1/160, ISO 200. The Sigma is rubber coated and weather sealed. It is very sharp at f4, it weighs 200 grams less than the Olympus, and it only cost $200.

Go ahead and spend $2500 to go with the consumer flow and support Olympus so you can shoot autofocus at 1/50 in the rain and cold of your backyard.
The brand new, latest, greatest stuff generally costs a lot. For example, when the Canon 24-70/2.8 II came out in 2012, it cost $2,300. No doubt there were a lot of people looking at their old, second-hand, sharp as can be Tamron 28-75 and wondering why anyone would pay the extra two grand. Others plunked for the new Canon and found it worth the money. Others yet waited for the price to come down by $500, which happened over time. I'm sure something similar will happen with the new Olympus.

Most people cannot reliably hand hold a 600mm equivalent lens steady at 1/160s. When I did this review of the Panasonic 100-300, I needed 1/500s to get sharp shots and found myself having to use very high ISO more often than not. Even with f/4, most people will often need high ISO to hold a non-stabilized lens steady at this focal length equivalent. A stabilized viewfinder also helps a lot with framing at this focal length equivalent.
 

Turbofrog

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I guess that the only way to know the precise T stop is to measure it in a lab. Once it gets DxO marked, we should have a good idea.
It is also possible to match exposures taken with a cine lens that is marked in T-stops (ideally with a clickless aperture for more precision) but that is a more involved process for sure.
 

Mat - MirrorLessons

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I just published this little video below. Shot entirely hand held with the E-M1, 300mm Pro and MC-14. That's how good the Sync IS works.
I used the M-IS1 setting.

 
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Hi Mat,

Great stuff. That Dual IS is amazing. I suppose it would be even better on the E-M5 Mk II. Some photographers suggest turning IS off when shooting BIF, claiming it slows down processing, and recommend just using shutter speeds of at least 1/1000 to get the desired sharpness. But I suspect that with IS this good, keeping it on would help a lot in keeping the bird in frame while panning. When you were shooting the earlier BIF shots, did you notice that to be the case?
 

Mat - MirrorLessons

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Hi Mat,

Great stuff. That Dual IS is amazing. I suppose it would be even better on the E-M5 Mk II. Some photographers suggest turning IS off when shooting BIF, claiming it slows down processing, and recommend just using shutter speeds of at least 1/1000 to get the desired sharpness. But I suspect that with IS this good, keeping it on would help a lot in keeping the bird in frame while panning. When you were shooting the earlier BIF shots, did you notice that to be the case?
It's better to call it Sync IS to avoid confusion with the Panasonic Dual IS on the GX8 :)
With birds in flight, you usually pan very fast so I am not sure that you could see a concrete difference. I didn't tried it off and on to see the difference with my earlier BIF shots. With IBIS activated, you can also get the preview in the EVF so I that could help.
 

RMills

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Hi everyone and happy new year to all of you.

I had the chance to use the new 300mm during the christmas holidays and I'm summarising my thoughts here. Feel free to ask me any questions.

What impressed me the most is sharpness and the optical stabilisation. The former is excellent from f/4 already (I used this aperture a lot) while the IS is excellent also on Panasonic cameras. I managed to get sharp shots down to 1/6s and 1/10s with the GX8. With the E-M1 and the Sync IS mode, I reached 0.4s (only once but still impressive). Granted those are extreme tests but it shows how good the optical IS really is. Bear in mind that shutter shock can be severe at critical shutter speeds.

The autofocus motor is very fast and silent on both Olympus and Panasonic cameras. The build quality is amazing, it feels like the best Pro lens Olympus ever build. It is also the largest and heavier M4/3 lens. On small cameras like the E-M10 or E-M10 II it can be uncomfortable to use. On the E-M1 and GX8 it's ok. I used the lens hand held for 90 minutes at a soccer game and only felt a little bit tired at the end. So yes it is a big lens for a m4/3 camera but you still get some of the advantages you expect from a smaller system.

If I have to mention a negative aspect, it would concerns the bokeh. In some situations like a bird on a tree, the out of focus branches in the foreground and background have hard edges and doubles images so the bokeh becomes nervous and unpleasant. In other situations with subject at a longer distance it is fine.

It is a large, heavy lens and the price is quite high. But if we consider that the lens gives the same angle of view as a 600mm on a full frame DSLR, there is some advantage there (but I know that some people might have different opinions about this kind of comparison :).

Below are a few images and a video shot in 4K with the lens on the GX8. You can check more images in my full review on MirrorLessons.

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Thank you Mat, yours and other reviews have sold me on this lens!
 

Tony Rex

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You're lucky that you live in a free country and get to choose, I've been told that I only get the $1500 lens :(
How come? An edict from the minister of finance (the Missus)?

I agree with Amin, the price will settle before long. I hope Olympus is serious of bringing this lens' genre to the masses. For me, this lens' biggest rivals are the other PRO lenses (7-14mm and the 8mm Fisheye), not counting the new bodies, Pen-F etc.
 
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eteless

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How come? An edict from the minister of finance (the Missus)?

I agree with Amin, the price will settle before long. I hope Olympus is serious of bringing this lens' genre to the masses. For me, this lens' biggest rivals are the other PRO lenses (7-14mm and the 8mm Fisheye), not counting the new bodies, Pen-F etc.
It's more the retail on it locally is $3500 and it's just not cost effective (even if it's fun to have new toys), I'll probably do what I've previously done and pick it up in America if/when I have an opportunity (I purchased my E-5, 12-60, 35-100mm f2.0, 50-200mm, and various other lenses this way at a heavy discount).
 

Tony Rex

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It's more the retail on it locally is $3500 and it's just not cost effective (even if it's fun to have new toys), I'll probably do what I've previously done and pick it up in America if/when I have an opportunity (I purchased my E-5, 12-60, 35-100mm f2.0, 50-200mm, and various other lenses this way at a heavy discount).
$3500!? That's brutal mate. Our preorder special is ~$2300 USD. That's why I didn't write this lens off the wish list. And if you're a tourist take off the GST, that's another 10% off. Not too bad for a holiday destination, eh?
 

eteless

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$3500!? That's brutal mate. Our preorder special is ~$2300 USD. That's why I didn't write this lens off the wish list. And if you're a tourist take off the GST, that's another 10% off. Not too bad for a holiday destination, eh?
There's another trick which is buy a lens which has a discount or cash back, the GST returned will generally be off the full retail price of the lens rather than the discounted price.

I bought a Canon 50mm f1.4 with a 30% off voucher from paypal ($436 -30% = $305) however I got the 10% GST returned on the full price ($43 back, ish), in the end I got a new lens for less than what they sell for second hand.


I think claiming everything on tax to offset your income is generally the better option, if it's an option :)
 

mcasan

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This is the Native Lenses forum. So obviously the discussions here should be about lenses purpose designed and built as M43 items. There is a seperate forum, Adapted Lenses, for discussions about using non-m43 lenses via adapters..etc. So if someone wants to discuss their experiences, uses cases, business cases....etc. about using 35mm or 43 lenses.....great. But do it in the right forum.
 

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